We recognize that pesticide use in the agricultural sector has led to concerns regarding the potential for unintended environmental and health impacts. We also recognize that worldwide an estimated 45% of crop production is lost to pests annually. While we do not own farms and can not mandate practices, we do strive to work with growers across our diverse global supply chains to support sustainable practices that substitute natural controls for some agrochemicals, foster ecosystem balance, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate crop losses.
We work with growers around the world on implementing sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, including integrated pest management (IPM) and cover crops. For example, in the U.S., we engage growers using the Field to Market metrics and framework. Four of the eight metrics are impacted by pesticide application: Water Quality, Biodiversity, Energy Use, and GHG Emissions. Through these programs, we connect growers with agronomy experts who can support the adoption of advanced agricultural practices such as cover crops and IPM. In Brazil, our ADM Responsible Soy program as well as the Doing It Right program both have IPM as a key component. Further, ADM is one of the sponsors of the Soja Plus Program, a program organized by the Brazilian Oil Industry Association and the Soy Farming Association, that provides training on farms, including training on the “conscious usage and correct handling of agrochemicals.”
Environmentally sustainable pest management starts with building healthy soils. Research has shown that crops grown on biologically active soils resist pests better than soils with low fertility, extreme pH, poor structure, and low biological activity. In addition to increasing soil health, specific cover crops can directly assist with pest management. For example, cover rye can control some diseases, weeds, and nematodes. Cover crops also provide valuable habitat and protection for predators that naturally control pest populations. They can act as a key prevention measure of an IPM plan. In a recent study, predatory insect populations were 7-10 times higher in cover cropped fields. These predators reduce the insect pest population, allowing for reduced pesticide application.
Integrated Pest Management
IPM is designed to reduce risks to human health and the environment from the use of pesticides. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, IPM can reduce insecticide usage by 95% with no effect on yield. These programs use current, comprehensive information on relevant pest species, including their life cycles and interaction with the environment. Combined with available pest control methods, the information is used to design a plan to prevent and manage pest damage by the most economical means, with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. IPM includes four steps:
- Set Action Threshold - Growers first determine the threshold at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that control actions must be taken.
- Monitor and Identify Pests - Many organisms are harmless, and may even be beneficial. Proper identification of and monitoring for pest species is critical to ensure pesticides are only used when needed.
- Prevention - Methods to prevent pests such as rotating crops and selecting pest-resistant varieties.
- Control - If action threshold indicates pest control is required, IPM plans outline control methods to balance effectiveness and risk. First, growers can use pheromones to disrupt pest life-cycles or mechanical control. If these methods fail, targeted spraying of weeds would be implemented. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
Certified organic foods are grown and processed according to strict regulatory standards, depending on local rules. For example, in the U.S., organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically-based farming methods and are inspected annually to verify practices. In the E.U., organic regulations limit the use of artificial herbicides and pesticides and prohibit the use of ionizing radiation and genetically modified organisms. Organic growers adopt several approaches to maintain soil fertility and plant health including crop rotation, pest-resistant varieties, and natural pest control techniques such as IPM.
Sustainable, Certified and Organic Product Sourcing
We source sustainable, certified and organic commodities to meet customer demand and sustainable sourcing objectives. Several of these programs have components that specifically impact pesticide usage. Through Field to Market, we are incentivizing adoption of cover crops, in addition to other regenerative agriculture practices. The ADM Responsible Soy, Doing It Right, Food Alliance, ISCC, RSPO, and RTRS programs all require the development, implementation and monitoring of IPM plans. Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides.
In 2021, we sourced volumes as follows: